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Tikkun Olam (tee-KOON oh-LUHM): Can Mothers Repair The World?

The concept of Tikkun Olam was born in ancient Jewish customs and writings. In the simplest terms, this beautiful phrase means "repair the world". Of course the truest and most full meaning is far deeper and more mystical than our modern conception, but this is a great starting place. What would it look like to repair the world? How to begin? I believe that the best mothers do this every day. Read and be encouraged.

In honor of Easter, Passover, and Yom Hashoa 2022.

As a Christian, I am powerfully drawn to our Jewish roots. Christ came from this rich heritage and our faith is shaped by it far more than we realize. The feasts, fasts, and festivals that were honored by Jesus are still ours to recognize and appreciate. These customs and traditions ground and center those who allow them to do so. They connect us to the faithful that came before us and the faithful yet to be born.

Family and community life is absolutely essential to the traditions of Judaism. In fact, the concept of motherhood as we know it today was articulated and fully appreciated in the earliest wisdom of this community. I have always felt that I stood on the shoulders of these people of faith. Creating a harbor home for my children connected me to faithful women who lived generations ago and to generations that I will not live to see. I continue to cling to the rabbinic wisdom of mothering. Mother as rabbi. What a perfect comparison.

The legacy of tikkun olam is just one of many that families can choose to integrate into their own lives which will then enlarge and repair the world. It begins most perfectly in the heart of a mother. The mother is the rabbi of the home. She is tasked with leading the children in the ways of righteousness. It is a long term commitment.

Judaism elevates motherhood in a way that is truly remarkable Mothers who are living the Word of God before their children are revered and cherished each and every day. Mothers who sacrifice their energy and ambition to selflessly create a home rich in faith, love and security are practicing tikkun olam at its core. The root of the world is the family. When mothers love their families with patience and strength, the world is repaired. In a harbor home, the mother is a heroine and is celebrated each day.

What are some practices that you can begin today that will begin to engage you and your children in the ways of tikkun olam? I've made a short list here. I hope these will encourage you to use your creativity and rabbinic wisdom to find others.

  1. Rethink what our culture is telling you. 21st century western culture has relegated motherhood to the realm of unskilled labor. What was once a highly respected and valued work has, since WWII, become synonymous with low ambition, lack of intelligence and drive, and blind servitude. Women have been taught that the only path to fulfillment is through employment that shunts motherhood to one side. I have a question: What if none of those assumptions are correct? What if we interrupt those thoughts for a moment and consider motherhood as a high and honorable undertaking with eternal ramifications? This is how scriptures describe it. Consider thinking about motherhood from a Biblical perspective for five minutes.

  2. Take pride in the work of your hands. Creating a harbor home is not for the faint of heart. It is not easy nor does it happen automatically. Any day that you manage to lead your family without any serious mishaps is a day to celebrate your accomplishments. A meal, a carpool, a paycheck. These are all hard things. These are reasons to be proud. You are the glue that binds your family together no matter what career path you are following and you are valuable beyond all calculation. In the peaceful day to day of being a family you are doing well. Well done. Stand encouraged and proud.

  3. Bring it in. Consider how much time you spend in busyness. Can your schedule be simplified? Can you bring your family in more and take them out less? What if there was more joy and less chaos? What if there was more purpose and less busyness? Take a serious look at your family schedule and see if it can be reined in a bit. Make time for games, projects, longer meals, read aloud time, kite flying or bubble blowing. Your children will remember these moments when they are very old.

  4. Take the long view. I had the privilege of caring for my mother in law the last three years of her life. She was in her nineties. In her final months, her most vivid memories were of her mother and father. She told me constantly what good parents they were. How beautifully they loved her and her sister and brothers. She told of going with her father into town to sell butter that her mother had churned. She described with intricate detail the butter mold her mother used to imprint a flower on the top of each pound of butter. She was raised on a small but prosperous dairy farm during the depression years, but it was the memory of her parents' devotion to one another, to their children, and, mostly. to their faith that were at the very tip of her heart and mind as she approached the end of her life. What are your children going to talk about when they are in their nineties? What memories are you planting there in that most deep parts of their minds? It will be the every day moments that they will keep. Make those moments as lovely and loving as you can.

Tikkun Olam. Repair the world. Begin with your children and your home. Create everyday memories that will last.

What everyday memories of childhood are close to your heart? What do you think that you will remember when you are ninety two and frail?

I will remember cinnamon toast warm from the broiler. I will remember having to wait until it cooled and smelling that delicious spicy scent and, sometimes, not being able to wait any longer and burning my tongue on the hot sugar. I will see in my minds eye the buttery spots in the bread where the butter and cinnamon and sugar pooled together in one perfect place and how I saved that bite for last. Cinnamon toast. Serve it to your children and you are engaging in Tikkun Olam.

Would you share what you remember from your childhood that you consider an act of Tikkun Olam? Can you tell us what you do with your children that will repair the world? Let us encourage each other. Share today. Use the hashtag #joyfulharborhome

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